Adding a keyboard layout to my PowerBook 100

The other afternoon, my PowerBook 100 resurrected from the dead, in a way that has even a creepy flavour, if you like. As I wrote in the 68k Macintosh Liberation Army forums:

After trying resetting the PMU countless times, disassembling the PowerBook 4 times, checking the checkable — and re-checking, I was pretty sure it was all a matter of battery. “The lead-acid battery has drained beyond repair and unless I find another one, this good old PowerBook won’t power up”, this I said to myself the other day. As a last resort (and because there’s always hope) I left the PowerBook 100 connected to the power adapter and with the battery inserted, hoping it could recharge a little.

Well, today I went out and returned home after a few hours, quite worried because there was a sudden, violent rainstorm and I was concerned for all the Macs left sleeping, the AirPort Express bases, etc. I rushed to my studio and heard a strange whirring sound… it was coming from the PowerBook internal speaker… I remembered that whirr very well… I opened the PowerBook, turned it on and bling!

Looking at my alarm clock on the nightstand, I noticed that the thunderstorm caused a temporary black-out while I was away. I don’t know but, could that power interruption / resumption have provided the “boost of life” to the PowerBook? In any case, it’s alive, and I’m amazed.

Since its internal hard drive had failed a few months ago, I’ve been trying to find another one. Not exactly easy, since this model of PowerBook needs a 2.5” SCSI hard drive with a smaller footprint than other ones. The one that came with my PowerBook is a 40-Megabyte Conner CP2045 manufactured in 1990, and I was lucky enough to find an identical one on eBay recently. What to do with a hard-drive-less PowerBook 100? Why, you use temporary alternatives: the external floppy drive, but most of all you create a RAM disk. The PowerBook 100 has a nice feature: a ‘persistent’ RAM disk. It means that when you turn the PowerBook off, you don’t lose the contents of the RAM disk (provided, of course, the 3 button lithium backup batteries on the back aren’t drained). So I devoted 3 of the 6 MB of RAM to a RAM disk and installed a minimal version of System 6.0.8 (the System Folder is only 750 KB — almost unbelievable), but I was missing the Italian keyboard layout: in the Keyboard control panel the only option was US.

I had downloaded some keyboard layouts from the Web time ago, but simply copying the Italian layout and pasting it inside the System Folder didn’t accomplish anything. A bit of research, and I found the right tip in the 68000 Mac FAQ:

Q: How to add keyboard layouts?
A: Info-mac has some localized keyboard layouts. With System 6, open the System file and the KCHR resource within it with ResEdit. Open the keyboard layout you want to add and the KCHR resource within it as another window. Copy and paste the KCHR layout to the System file’s KCHR resource list and save changes. Select the layout from the Keyboard Control Panel. With System 7 and up you can just drag ‘n drop the layout on top of the System Folder.

And it worked very well. It was so good to do some little ResEdit-ing again! I miss something like ResEdit in Mac OS X.

By the way, the Info-Mac mirror cited in the 68000 Mac FAQ is still working and ftp.funet.fi is a real repository of delightful things, not only for Macs. Keyboard layouts can be found there, too.

On a final note, it’s worth mentioning that the notorious key combination for taking screenshots, Command-Shift-3, was already implemented under System 6. There was no ‘camera click’ sound, and the image files generated were in PICT format.

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